April 3, 2020

Media Contacts
Tech Valley Center of Gravity: Cheryl Kennedy
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    (518) 244-3544     
Center for Economic Growth: Michael Lobsinger
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    (518) 465-8975 x 238


Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Center for Economic Growth, Benét Laboratories, and Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency “facing up” to COVID-19 to produce up to 500 protective face shields

Troy, NY –Multiple projects related to personal protective equipment (PPE) devices have launched from Tech Valley Center of Gravity during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to health care professionals has become increasingly problematic as COVID-19 cases continue to surge worldwide.

A partnership between Center for Economic Growth (CEG), Benét Laboratories, Tech Valley Center of Gravity (TVCoG), supported and sponsored by Rensselaer County Industrial Agency (RCIDA) will produce a volume of 3D printed face shields between the Watervliet Arsenal and the Tech Valley Center of Gravity’s Prototyping Center.

Led by CEG, who sponsored the initial production pilot partnership with Benét Laboratories, the project is now funded to scale up production with financial support from the Rensselaer County Industrial Agency.  The project uses a modified open source PRUSA design to create face shields for protection of the facial area and associated mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) from splashes, sprays, and spatter of body fluids. Used in conjunction with other protective gear, face shields can offer greater protection from COVID-19 transmission than surgical masks and eye protection alone.

The Tech Valley Center of Gravity is coordinating this project and will distribute to local organizations in the Capital Region through an ordering system anticipated to launch from their website next week.Orders will be available for arranged pick up or for delivery by staff and volunteers; hospitals, medical clinics, and “essential service” organizations dealing with the public will be prioritized. The combined efforts of the facilities will be able to produce 50 to 75 face shields per week. 

Mr. Michael Lobsinger, Tech Valley Center of Gravity Board Chair and Senior Vice President of Business Growth at Center for Economic Growth has been managing production at the TVCoG Prototyping Center and is leading this project with CEG’s Mr. Tom Bell, Project Director for Technology Services, “In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Center of Economic Growth has been able to leverage an extensive manufacturing network to not only assist in compliance with NYS executive orders, but to assist in pivoting multiple operations to manufacturing protective personal equipment. We sponsor the Stratasys 3-D Printer in the Prototyping Center at the TVCoG for just this type of purpose, and were quick to utilize it for this opportunity.”

Mr. Robert Pasinella, Executive Director, Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency, stated “Rensselaer County IDA is committed to support Tech Valley Center of Gravity, Benét Laboratories, and Center for Economic Growth to develop, produce, and distribute this protective equipment in the Capital Region. Critical PPE supply shortages are expected across the United States, and it is important that County and City governments proactively support initiatives that ensure we have adequate supplies.”

Benét Laboratoriesis an integral partner in the project, providing assistance to ramp up production quickly. Mr. Ken Marks and Dr. Elaine Humiston have coordinated the effort and stated, “Center for Economic Growth engaged us early on this project and that has given us the opportunity to collaborate on the improvements to existing open source computer-aided design (CAD) of a face shield that allows printing of the headgear faster and has the appropriate fit. Those of us with Stratasys 3D printers, or similar, should look at assisting in these types of projects right now.”

The anticipated supply shortages for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic is being addressed by a variety of industries across New York State. As manufacturers pivot to assist during this crisis, makerspaces and incubators with production abilities, become pivotal to hosting partnerships that create capacity.

In addition to this collaboration, TVCoG’s Facilities and Incubator Director, Mr. Dan Falkenstrom is 3D printing the open source Verkstan face shield design on a PRUSA MK2s, experimenting with using transparency sheets donated from Emma Willard School, as supplies to create the transparent portion of the shield become more difficult to source. Organizations interested in donating clear sheet materials such as PETG (.020) are encouraged to contact TVCoG at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Several TVCoG members are also making face shields on home 3D printers, as well as sewing cloth face masks. The Center of Gravity will act as a collection and redistribution center for donated PPE using a new, closeable garbage bin donated from City of Troy, which was modified at the TVCoG to function as a locked collection receptacle. This bin will be accessible in the Third Street vestibule from 2:00pm to 5:00pm every Wednesday and Thursday for drop off of PPE supplies from their members and the general public who are making face shields and masks from home.

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About Benet Labs

Benét Laboratoriesis a Department of the Army R & D facility located at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York. Benét is a part of the Weapons & Software Engineering Center (WSEC), Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CCDC AC), which is located at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

The primary mission of Benét Laboratories is to conduct the research, design and development of advanced launch mechanism, cannon mortars, recoilless rifles and other related components. Benét's major disciplinary strengths are in high strength materials, mechanical engineering, fracture mechanics, fatigue, refractory metal plating and producibility engineering and weaponization of advanced concepts.

Benét Laboratories' facilities are focused on quickly transitioning technology into design concepts and rapidly providing customers working prototypes primarily for Army programs and project managers, but increasingly supporting commercial and industrial partners.


About Center for Economic Growth

The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) is the Capital Region’s regional economic development organization, with over 265 investors in business, government, education, and the not-for-profit sectors. CEG serves as a regional technology center under the New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NYMEP) program, which is facilitated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and New York Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.


About Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency

The Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency (RCIDA) is dedicated to promoting economic developmentand vitality within Rensselaer County. Governed by a seven-member board, the RCIDAhas the authority to offer sales and property tax incentives, grants and low-cost capital to attract and retain businesses.


About Tech Valley Center of Gravity 

Tech Valley Center of Gravity (TVCoG) is a makerspace, prototyping center, manufacturing incubator, STEAM-education center and creative community located in the heart of downtown Troy, New York. A member-supported 501(c)(3) community resource organization, the Center of Gravity serves members from Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties by providing low-cost access to equipment, tools, technology and space, as well as business expertise, education and resources.

The Manufacturing Incubator at TVCoG provides expert coaching and incubation across industries, advisory services and support for product-related startups. For members launching entrepreneurial ventures, we offer resources for product development through the Prototyping Center, with its advanced manufacturing equipment and flexible workspace.